Custom Brushstroke / Regina Coyula

My husband needs alcohol to live. He is not an alcoholic, but being a bit dramatic, he uses it twice a day to inject insulin. He has the equivalent of a pharmacy version of a ration book, popularly known as “the card,” through which his medications are filled and he also gets ten disposable syringes and a 240 ml bottle of alcohol every month.

That’s in theory, because in practice in the time he’s been an insulin-dependent diabetic, the bottle of alcohol has been elusive. So he’s given a pig in a poke, in this case aloe syrup in place of alcohol, but he only realized it a couple of years ago when he came to use it because the bottles are the same.

In April,when Alcides went to buy his medicines, they were out of alcohol again, and on the recommendation of a neighbor, my husband asked for a “diversion.” A diversion is a paper that authorizes you to buy from a pharmacy other than your regular one. It was almost seven at night, and as the diversion was for a pharmacy situated very close to Rafa’s school, Alcides thought it was a good idea for Rafa to go for the alcohol the following day.

Rafa came back empty-handed. The diversion had to be filled the same date as on the paper, they told him at the pharmacy at 23rd and I, so again Alcides went to the neighborhood pharmacy for a new diversion, but please, for the following day.

This was useless, the diversion has to be on the date of the paper as established by the Company, and they can’t give you a paper for the following day because this violates the provisions. Alcides tore up the paper in the pharmacy and ended up buying a 250 ml bottle of alcohol for 3 cucos and 15 chavitos.

This month has been different. Alcides joined the usual line at the busiest time for that diversion; when they served him he couldn’t buy the alcohol because the new manager (there’s always a new manager) had left it locked up. Tremendous disappointment, but it wasn’t the clerk’s fault, so he returned the next day.

Needless to say that having made the line the day before, no excuse for doing it again. With another employee, he asked for the bottle of alcohol. They had it, but he couldn’t have it. The alcohol at the pharmacy was for the colostomy patients. He asked for a diversion but didn’t get it, because the next day it was possible that the medications would come.

I have Alcides own version, so I guess things got worse. The line stopped, Alcides, who is too old to be played with, another employee, trying to appease him, suggested they give him the alcohol for the colostomies. My husband continued to insist that the pharmacy didn’t belong to them, that the alcohol had to be on the shelf with the other drugs, because it’s not meat that spoils and he has the right to his bottle of alcohol.

The employee threatened him with the police, Alcides invited him to make the call to get them up-to-date with the business that has the medications; the employee, making use of the power you have when you have no power, refused to provide the alcohol.

Very picturesque, but don’t tell the story in front of Alcides, because he’s not amused.

1 July 2013